TEACHER union leaders have condemned Education Secretary Gove’s plan to open schools until 6pm for 51 weeks of the year.
Gove has made a submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), calling for regulations determining teachers’ working conditions to be torn up.
In it he claims that schools are prevented from taking advantage of government reforms ‘because of the restrictive terms under which they currently employ teachers’.
Teachers’ contracts stipulate that they should work 1,265 hours over 195 days a year, of which five days a year are out of the classroom for duties other than direct teaching.
Gove wants this ‘central specification of teachers’ working days and hours’ removed from the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and for teachers to cover for absent colleagues more regularly.
In his submission to the STRB, Gove claimed that current provisions are ‘overly prescriptive’ and pointed approvingly to conditions being introduced in Academies and Free Schools.
He said: ‘The David Young Community Academy in Leeds operates a seven-term year starting in June, with a maximum of six weeks at school followed by a maximum of four weeks’ holiday.
‘All ARK schools operate a longer school day: at secondary level, ARK schools are open from 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am-3pm on Fridays, providing 31 hours teaching per week.’
Gove also praised the Free School Norwich which is open 51 weeks a year, claiming it is ‘proving very popular with parents struggling with childcare costs’.
It operates from 8.15am to 5.45pm during term time and throughout holidays, with one week off at Christmas.
Jean Roberts, Joint Brent NUT Secretary and ATL Executive member, commented to News Line: ‘Who does Gove think is going to staff this 51 weeks of the year?
‘It has to be more unqualified teachers and support assistants with the obvious aim of making money.
‘This is a further step on the running of schools for profit which he has made clear is his aim for education.
‘The urgency of the unions working more closely together must clearly be a high priority to defeat these and other plans to privatise education.’
NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said: ‘We have a ballot, which means we can take strike action before the middle of February.
‘From the government’s moves on pay, we know that ministers are enthusiastic about deregulation.
‘I think it is a mistake on pay and it would be even more of a mistake on teachers’ conditions of service.’